Sep
21
2008

Thousands of Chinese infants hospitalized by poisoned powdered milk

Deadly milk formula: Melamine added to Chinese baby milk is deadly.
Deadly milk formula: Melamine added to Chinese baby milk is deadly.Courtesy kirikiri

Babies are dying

Four babies have died after drinking milk powder contaminated with melamine. Melamine is a cheap plastic made from oil, and when added to powdered milk, looks like protein in tests. Melamine was in the news over a year ago when pet food from China containing melamine was killing people's pets. In an attempt to regain public confidence, China executed a top drug regulator who was taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.

So far 19 people have been arrested while 78 others have been interrogated, according to Yang Zongyong, vice governor of the northern province of Hebei where Sanlu is based.

"We will severely punish and discipline those people and workers who have acted illegally," Health Minister Gao said Saturday. Beijing AFP

Parents are furious

After a month of pride in China's national achievements with hosting the olympics, the food scandal has angry citizens posting quotes like:

"Drink a glass of milk a day, wipe out a country!"

"Foreign milk costs money, domestic milk costs lives" The Independent

Inspection free and government approved

Until a week ago, Sanlu's baby milk formula came with a seal stating "no inspection needed": their 1100 tests met the highest possible standards of government approval.
"So the question should really be whether the victims can sue the Chinese government."

Somebody should have to pay

"In an unprecedented stand yesterday that will test the Communist Party's limits on civil society, more than 70 human rights lawyers from 23 provinces and municipalities announced they will help parents whose babies are sick or have developed kidney stones from drinking tainted infant formula" (read more in the Sunday Herald)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

poptart1234's picture
poptart1234 says:

wow. that is really sad! I visited China this summer, and they also recalled toothpastes! I'm glad I'm not an infant...

posted on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 6:28pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Li Changjiang, China's food safety chief, has resigned because of the tainted milk scandal. This just a year after the tainted toothpaste and other scandals, which prompted the government to promise a total overhaul of the system.

4 babies have died, and nearly 53,000 are sick. 104 are in serious condition.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:02am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I bet he is worried about facing a firing squad. Many of the parents of the 53,000 sick children think the death penalty is appropriate for anyone knowingly allowing melamine in baby formula.

posted on Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:21am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Liza pointed this interesting piece in the NY Times out to me today. It's sort of a follow-up on the poisoned milk scandal.

Turns out that distributing toxic milk to the public, and the horribly irresponsible handling of the situation that follows, is an old American trick. In New York City in the 1850s, the milk supply was somehow being increased by tens of thousands of gallons each shipment. It was being watered down, and then colored and enriched with other materials to pass it off as normal milk—just like the baby formula in China. Also, a lot of New York's milk was so called "swill milk," thin, gross milk from cows kept in lots attached to the city's distilleries and fed the mash byproduct of alcohol manufacturing. The swill milk was colored with plaster, and enriched with a variety of ingredients that you wouldn't necessarily want in your milk. And, just like in China, thousands of babies became sick, and far more than the 4 China has reported so far died.

The piece points out that food scandals like this should be far from surprising in a place like modern China, which, like NYC a hundred and fifty years ago, had a rapidly growing population, and a government that left a lot to be desired. It took years and years before swill milk was eliminated from New York, and it's likely going to take years before this sort of thing disappears from China too.

Check out the link above. It's an interesting article.

posted on Tue, 09/30/2008 - 4:10pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Two men have been given the death penalty for their involvement in China's contaminated milk scandal (click link in red to learn more).

posted on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 8:09am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

China tainted milk results in more executions.
Click on links to learn more.
Two Are Executed for Roles in China Milk Scandal New York Times
China executes 2 for role in tainted milk scanda Yahoo News

posted on Tue, 11/24/2009 - 9:34am

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